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Ultimately we must be our own F-14s

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1105 DAYS,--New York, NY, Tuesday, September 21, 2004--I awaken between 4 and 5 a.m. most mornings, compelled to write about battling the Beast of Terrorism.

It all started for me on September 11, 2001, when I was at Ground Zero that horrible day of infamy and witnessed the wanton destruction of innocent lives by a group of Terrorists bent on driving America and the world into caves of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.

I stuck my head out my window to do a "weather check"

So it isn't odd that when I stuck my head out my apartment window to check the weather--my unscientific but reliable measure of whether or not I should dress warm or not or carry an umbrella--that I heard the sweet sound of silver F-14s streaking through the New York City sky.

They are prowling. German Shepherds used to protect the flock of sheep had one mission--to drive the wolves away. They skulked around the flock, heads lowered, eyes peeled, ears perked to catch the scent, sound or movement of a wolf eager to snatch a lamb for dinner.

Above New York City the F-14s search the skies for wolves above, such as the pack that assaulted the World Trade Center more than 1,000 days ago. They are also ready to assault any attempt to breech the land by water.

Following the attacks on the World Trade Center, the familiar sounds of the F-14s engines screaming high above the city was as comforting as the song of the nightingale. For those of us who were still shell shocked, the roar of engines eagling above gave a sense of security that our children and grandchildren, our loved ones, might be just a little safer.

The F-14s, however, are a facade for New Yorkers. They haven't come to protect us, but are here as royal guards for the President of the United States, and perhaps his contender, Mr. Kerry. Both candidates are in town to throw spears at one another. Each is claiming he is the better Sentinel of Vigilance, more worthy than the other to protect us from the harms that go bump in the night.

It seems to me always unfair that one citizen of this nation deserves a flock of F-14s when eight million don't, but then I forget that RHIP--rank has it's privileges.

There is some folly, I think, in the righteous presumption that one man or woman has the power to protect us all from Terrorism, whether he or she be Democrat or Republican or some bizarre offshoot touting knowledge and wisdom beyond that of a dedicated mother or father, grandparent, or group of loved ones.

Hearing the jets I felt like the citizens of Rome when the soldiers marched through their streets
Hearing the jets I felt like the citizens of Rome when the soldiers marched through their streets

Politics and power absurdities aside, I still relax when I hear the wings of the jets slicing through the sky, as must have the citizens of war-torn towns centuries ago felt relaxed when the legions of Roman soldiers dedicated to keep their towns safe from marauders marched through the streets, six thousand heels hitting the cobblestones in unison, forming a symphonic thunder of Vigilance that while tertiary in nature, appeased the fret and worry for a brief moment as they passed through.

The F-14s are all show for political kings....

I know the F-14s are all show and no go. They circle and soar without real consequence, for despite their hawking sorties above the city planes fly all day long down and up the Hudson River and any one could in a moment turn and plow a load of explosive cargo into Wall Street before the jets could respond.

Still, like perfume on a hog, there is an intoxication, a seduction of sounds that quell the disruptive spirit, lulls the troubled heart, and sirens the soul into a near state of Complacency as the jets scream overhead. I feel a relaxing of the hilt of the Sword of Vigilance rests heavy my hand after holding it aloft for three years.

I am not unlike so many. I love the idea that someone up there is looking out for me, even though I know it's not true. The pilots' mission is to protect the king, not me.

I am, as the word goes, dispensible. The king, it is presumed, is not.

...and no go
...and no go for the grandkids

Unfortunately, we live in a world where the heads of state cling to an archaic structure that makes the people think whomever is the crowned leader--whether that crown is placed upon their own head or by the people--has the interests of the children's children's children at hand.

This cannot be true, for if it were, these leaders would couch each word in relation to future generations, and explain the benefits of decisions or proposals in light of the future security of the rights of the parents' grandchildrens' grandchildren.

Those words do not fall off the lips of the leaders. China's new leader, the first non-violent transition of power since Mao-Tse Tung, Mr. Hu, still endorses, however tacitly, the killing of baby girls in his country to keep the population in check.

I forget the realities of a world that refuses to take an individual Vow of Vigilance, to assume Parental Leadership, and listen to the F-14s gutteral growl as they arc around the island of Manhattan, displaying once again the falsification that security starts from the top down rather than the bottom up.

I am human. I want to drop the Sword of Vigilance and believe that someone else will protect my family, my loved ones, my children, my grandchildren.

It's easier.

But, deep down in the rusty marrow of my aging bones, I know better. I know that when the attacks come the mass will stampede. And the wolves will count on the herd to bolt, to trample itself so that the weak will be exposed and the wolves can pick them off.

The wolves will count on the herd to bolt and they can pick off the weak
The wolves will count on the herd to bolt and they can pick off the weak

Ah, but the sounds of the F-14s are intoxicating, like sipping too much wine on a beautiful night, the muscles of one's mind relax and soften, the sinew in the forearm relaxes as the hilt of the Sword of Vigilance droops and the fingers, once firmly knotted, begin to open in somnolent seduction to the wish that someone else take charge of the future by assuring the security of the present.

For a moment this morning I fell victim to the belief in the F-14's. Then I heard the sirens scream.

Reality exists in the streets of life, where the parents must hold the hands of their children crossing streets, and be wary as to whom they allow to watch over their wards.

It comes down to individual and family to guard the children's safety, not the kings or the kings' royal guards.

Ultimately we must be our own F-14s
Ultimately we must be our own F-14s

Ultimately, we must be our own F-14s.

But, for a brief moment this morning, I relaxed in the delusion that maybe the role of protecting the future wasn't mine.

Then I sobered up.

I took my Vow of Vigilance. I grabbed the hilt of my Sword of Vigilance and began to sniff the air and cock my ears and radar with my eyes the horizons.

The delusion was sweet, but not real. What is real is my taking the Pledge of Vigilance each day, and realizing that my children and grandchildren trust me, not the king.

Therein rests the reason my Sword of Vigilance isn't as heavy as I thought.

Go To Yesterday's Story: "The Day The Angel Of Death Kissed The Angel Of Life"

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